While the bulk of local attention and resources are focused on the Government Flats Complex burning just east of Hood River County, three smaller fires this week serve as a unambiguous reminder of just how precarious fire danger remains throughout the region.
Crews doused a pair of fires along Herman Creek Road, one on Wednesday and another on Thursday, before they got out of hand, and Thursday afternoon firefighters responded to a lightning-struck snag that caught fire and began burning the ground around it. Both were extinguished quickly, thanks in large part to quick responses from nearby agencies and relatively high humidity and low winds that kept fire behavior subdued.
Thursday’s fire in Cascade Locks crept through a strip of grass and underbrush along the road before crews from Skamania County, Cascade Locks and Oregon Department of Forestry arrived and doused it with their wildland engines. Suspiciously, firefighters extinguished a similar fire the day before, on the other side of the road not far to the west. Fuel load in the area was such that, had winds been active on either day, the fires could have gotten out of hand very quickly.
At about 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon, thunderstorms rolled over the valley, dropping rain in some areas and lightning bolts in others. A motorist on Dee Highway reported smoke and flames erupting from a tree west of the Hood River, toward the Kinsley Road area. Westside Fire District aided Oregon Department of Forestry crews, and once they were able to find the best way into the fire, they knocked it down in short time.
Although weather this week brought light rain to the valley, Jim Trammel, Hood River County fire defense chief, says it will do little to reduce the extreme fire danger that remains throughout the region.